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Rainiers beat 51s, take series opener at Cashman Field

Updated May 26, 2018 - 12:24 am

The Rainiers welcomed Aaron Laffey back to the Pacific Coast League by hitting him hard Friday.

The veteran lefty, who pitched in parts of eight seasons in the majors, was signed by the Mets to a minor league deal earlier this week.

Laffey, who has pitched for multiple PCL teams (including the 51s), was pitching for the independent Somerset Patriots to begin the season. And in his first start back in affiliated ball, he took the loss, thanks in large part to a five-run third inning.

Las Vegas lost the series opener 8-6 to Tacoma on Friday night at Cashman Field. Laffey gave up seven runs — six earned — in his five-inning start.

After a week involving cross-country travel, Laffey said he was leaking through his delivery and fatigue might have set in.

“(I’m) just kind of looking forward to recouping from this one, getting settled in physically, getting adjusted to the environment and the time change and looking forward to coming back and throwing the ball like I did those first two innings,” Laffey said.

Laffey gave up an unearned run in the first inning and pitched a scoreless second before he was bit by the longball in the third inning.

“The third inning just kind of everything fell apart. I think I only threw 10 strikes out of 40 pitches,” Laffey said. “I went from the first two innings of pounding the strike zone, getting ahead of hitters to the third inning, just fell behind, kind of just leaking out of my delivery, arm was dragging and when you fall behind like that and you’ve got to come back in the strike zone, the hitters are ready.”

He gave up a three-run blast to Taylor Motter and a two-run shot to Seth Mejias-Brean to give the Rainiers (25-24) a six-run lead. In the fifth, he gave up another home run to Cameron Perkins.

That put the 51s (20-29) in a hole they couldn’t come back from.

“I think 12 hits, six runs should be enough. You’re down 6-0 after three, I think that’s been a major problem here with our starting pitching,” manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “It’s been good at times but the inconsistency is just you fight every day to try to get a starter to go five innings and give you a chance.”

The 51s did chip away with a run in the third on a Cody Asche RBI triple, one in the fourth on Phillip Evans’ 10th home run of the season and two in the fifth on RBI hits from Matt den Dekker (triple) and Kevin Plawecki (single).

They scored two runs in the seventh inning on RBI hits from Dominic Smith and Patrick Kivlehan, though they left the bases loaded. They left two runners on in the eighth inning, too, in the loss.

“We fought back. We got back in the game. A couple big hits. It was good to see Evans drive the baseball. den Dekker had a few hits today but overall we just didn’t get the big hit,” DeFrancecso said. “We had guys in scoring position. We pinch hit a couple guys today. Got a nice pinch hit from Kivlehan. (Christian) Colon came in and had a chance, bases loaded and hit a ground ball to first base.”

More 51s: Follow Las Vegas 51s coverage at reviewjournal.com/51s and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Betsy Helfand at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.

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